SOUTH AFRICA – It has been a year since the infamous KFC hose-blasted-on-cement-floor chicken scandal dominated mainstream media for almost a week and sparked 55-million social media impressions.

Now the company is offering its customers a novel guarantee — if the KFC meal is not up to scratch‚ they will replace it.

The two events are not entirely unrelated‚ says KFC Africa’s chief marketing officer Mike Middleton‚ who admitted last May that the company was “suffering” badly as a result of the public outcry over the firehose fiasco.

The taste guarantee is a global KFC undertaking‚ but so far launched only in the US‚ India and now SA‚ the local launch having been “accelerated” by a few months as a direct result of last year’s brand bashing.

But do not think you can eat three quarters of your KFC meal and then return it‚ claim that there was something wrong with it and ask for another one.

“Our staff have been trained to be on the lookout for abuse of our taste guarantee‚” Middleton says.

“There’s no doubt that a small minority will try to abuse the system.”

A significant amount of the “unsatisfactory” product must be returned‚ in order to get a replacement.

“We aren’t going to replace a mostly eaten meal.”

So what constitutes unsatisfactory? “Meals which have been left standing too long before being handed to the customer‚ to the point that they are cool or tough‚ or both; lettuce that doesn’t look right — that sort of thing…,” Middleton says.

With 20-million meals a month being prepared and served by 30,000 staff members‚ human error inevitably sees some below-par meals being passed over the counter.

“The taste guarantee will force an improvement in standards by making team members a lot more accountable‚” Middleton says.

KFC is still number one in SA by far‚ with 37% share of the quick service restaurant (QSR) market — albeit down from last year’s 41% — and Middleton says the company’s latest brand tracking exercise put perception of the brand at its highest since 2011.

“Consumers said they were impressed by the honest‚ transparent way we dealt with the crisis of last year‚” Middleton said.

“They likened what happened to a fight with a spouse — they were annoyed‚ withheld a bit‚ then forgave us and moved on.” – TMG Digital

May 24, 2016;